The Pakistani government has made a momentous step forward. For the first time in the country’s history transgender people will be counted during its population survey, which will start in March.
All of this stems from one person filing a petition to have transgender people included in the nation’s sixth census. Waqar Ali, who is transgender, argued last November that Pakistan’s transgender community had been marginalized, disenfranchised and that heir fundamental rights and contribution to the country should be officially recognized.
This is a pretty big step for the rights of trans people in South Asia. It hasn’t even been a decade since transgender people were first allowed to vote in Pakistan, with the country’s high court making it official in just 2011. In 2012, Pakistan’s high court declared that all transgender people were to be afforded equal rights, and presumably protections, under the law.
There’s no real good estimate on the number of transgender people living in Pakistan, but advocacy groups have put the number at close to 50,000. Which is a drop in the bucket compared to the 132 million people who are estimated to live in Pakistan.
This will be the country’s first census since 1998 and probably the most inclusive.